Speech: The government can't be trusted on nuclear

Speech: The government can't be trusted on nuclear Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (16:06): I have spoken in this place often about how I think the government could be capitalising on the jobs and opportunities that the renewables sector has to offer. We should be leading the world, and I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that, if Labor were in government, we would be. Australia and, I strongly believe, my electorate on the New South Wales South Coast in particular are uniquely poised to be booming in the renewable energy space. We know the community wants us to. We know the non-government sector and industry want us to. So what is holding us back? That's right: it's this government's failure to establish a coherent and clear energy policy. It is costing us jobs, it is costing us innovation and it is allowing our emissions to continue going up.

Only last week, I put on the record my strong objections to the government's proposed changes to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation bill. At that moment in time, the proposal in front of us was to add gas as one of the industries the CEFC could invest in. I said I was concerned that the bill was an attempt to undermine the CEFC and fundamentally change its purpose, which is to support renewable energy generation. Oh, what I didn't know! Before too long, the Nationals had piped up again. The member for New England decided he wanted coal-fired power plants included as well. Somehow Barnaby Joyce thinks a fund that allows for investment in new technologies that help to lower emissions should invest in old fossil fuels. Go figure! And then what do you know? The Nationals' obsession with nuclear power reared its ugly head. The leader and deputy leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Bridget McKenzie and Matt Canavan—the former minister for resources, no less—decided they want the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in nuclear power. I have said it before and I will say it again: the coalition cannot be trusted—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Llew O'Brien):  The member will pause. The minister is seeking the call. Point of order?

Mr Howarth:  I just remind the member to use—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Is it a point of order?

Mr Howarth:  Yes, it's on a point of order in relation to using the correct title for members and senators.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I've been listening closely to the member, and there have been a couple of occasions where you have used the name of the senator. I ask you to use the proper title. Please continue.

Mrs PHILLIPS:  I've said it before and I will say it again: the coalition cannot be trusted when it comes to nuclear power. But I can tell you this much: the people of my electorate of Gilmore on the New South Wales South Coast will never accept a nuclear power plant on our shores. We will never allow the crystal clear blue waters of Jervis Bay to be put at risk by the Nationals' obsession with nuclear. We will fight you every step of the way every day for as long as it takes. We won't forget, because no matter what the coalition say they will always try this on. They will always be working, sometimes secretly and sometimes right here in a press conference at Parliament House, to push nuclear power generation in our community. Liberal-National governments can never be trusted when it comes to nuclear, just like they can't be trusted to get it right on renewable energy.

The fact is that we do not need nuclear power. Not only is it dangerous; it's also expensive. There is no business case to support nuclear power. There is no community or industry appetite for nuclear power. What is their appetite for? It's for renewable energy. The jobs of the future are in renewable energy; we all know it. But the Liberals and Nationals are simply obsessed with coal and nuclear power. It baffles the mind. To be frank, it would almost be comical if it didn't have such serious repercussions.

In a community like mine, the reality is that we are losing the opportunities for local jobs for local people, something that we just can't afford. We have industry and the community sector leading the way with local solar farms, electric vehicle charging stations, a renewable energy cow poo farm—the list goes on and on.

Fantastic things are happening, and all in the huge gaping hole that is the government's energy policy. If we had leadership from the coalition government on renewables, just imagine the jobs and just imagine the innovation we could be seeing from local people, local farmers and local not-for-profits. Let me just say, coming from a dairy farming family, I can tell you that we have a lot of cows on the South Coast and they produce a lot of poo. We could be capitalising on that, just like the local farmers are trying to do in Nowra. Locals are desperately trying to do their bit. The government just can't be trusted on renewables. They can't be trusted to create jobs and they can't be trusted to keep us safe from nuclear power.